Weaving indigenous and western science knowledges through a land-based field course at Bkejwanong Territory (Laurentian Great Lakes)

Clint Jacobs, Nin.Da.Waab.Jig-Walpole Island Heritage Centre
Candy Donaldson, Great Lakes Institute for Environmental Research
Jessica T. Ives, Great Lakes Institute for Environmental Research
Katrina Keeshig, Nin.Da.Waab.Jig-Walpole Island Heritage Centre
Torey Day, Nin.Da.Waab.Jig-Walpole Island Heritage Centre
Catherine Febria, Great Lakes Institute for Environmental Research


In response to a growing interest in building Indigenous-led educational experiences, we codeveloped a land-based field course that wove Indigenous ways of knowing together with Western ecological concepts. The spirit of the course was the one rooted in varied ways of knowing nature, on the land, the water, and the culture-to see the Great Lakes from an Anishinaabe perspective. Situated in the heart of the Laurentian Great Lakes Basin at Bkejwanong Territory (Walpole Island First Nation), in the Traditional Territory of the Three Fires Confederacy of First Nations (Ojibwe, Odawa, and Potawatomi) on Turtle Island (North America), this inaugural undergraduate university course was led by an Indigenous instructor with contributions from non-Indigenous science faculty from the university and local community knowledge keepers. Here, we describe our journey in cocreating land-based teaching modules with Indigenous scholars and scholars at the University of Windsor, Ontario, Canada. We focused on experiences that exposed students to traditional ways of knowing nature, and reflections were used as the main teaching pedagogy. The course offered daily perspectives and activities across land and water and examined dimensions of biodiversity as sacred beings and medicine. Outcomes and indicators of success were driven by the individual's reflection and evaluation on their own growth, as expressed through a final project aimed at bridging knowledges, supporting community initiatives or both. This case is designed to offer an example that has potential for application to many other contexts where community-faculty partnerships and land-based learning opportunities are available.